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Optimizing Your YouTube Video for SEO

In order for your YouTube videos to be found in the SERPs (search engine results pages), you will need to do some video SEO optimization when you upload your video. This post will explain how to optimize your YouTube video for SEO with a step-by-step guide.

Use any of the links below to jump directly to that section of the post.

  1. Do Your Keyword Research
  2. Uploading a Video to YouTube
  3. Adding Title, Description & Tags
  4. Adding Annotations
  5. Adding Subtitles
  6. Post Your Video
  7. Schedule Your Video

Do Your Keyword Research

We cannot stress this enough! We recommend completing keyword research for your video prior to shooting (if possible) and definitely prior to optimizing your video on YouTube. Use the Google Keyword Planner Tool to come up with appropriate, relevant keywords.  Check out our Google Adwords for Small Business post and scroll down to the Google Adwords Keyword Planner slide to find more detailed info about using Google’s Keyword Planner.

 

Uploading a Video to YouTube

  1. Before you begin, you should optimize the filename of your video on your computer – use a descriptive video title and include keywords in the filename to give it additional SEO value.
  2. Locate your YouTube login information and log in to your account at https://www.youtube.com/
  3. In the top right corner of the page, click UPLOAD. You will see the following:
    YouTube video upload button

    • Ensure that the setting for your video is set to PRIVATE to ensure that you will have the opportunity to edit and optimize your video title, description, tags, subtitles and annotations before your video goes live and is sent out to your subscribers and social media networks.
  4. Click on the ARROW image and locate the video you wish to upload on your computer. Once you have selected your video, you should see a screen similar to the screenshot below as it uploads:
    YouTube_Upload Sample

    1. Notice that the default title is the same as your filename.
    2. You may have your account set up to display default text in the description and tags fields. You can edit these for each video you upload.

Adding Title, Description & Tags to Your Video

Adding the title, description and tags to your video will give it SEO value for rank in the search engines.

  1. Return to the INFO AND SETTINGS page by clicking the link at the top left of the page.YouTube upload options bar
  2. TITLE: Be sure to include applicable keywords and video details in the title. Use a pipe < | > as a method of adding more keywords.
  3. DESCRIPTION: You will find some default text already entered into the description – contact info and/or social media links – Insert your video’s unique video description above this information.
    1. Including a quote from the video is a great way to include unique content.
    2. Be sure to include appropriate keywords within the description.
    3. Be sure that the tags used are also included in the description text.
  4. TAGS: Add any tags that may be appropriate to describe the video’s content and the description.
  5. PLAYLISTS: Add your video to a relevant playlist by clicking ADD TO PLAYLIST.
    YouTube - Add to playlist button
  6. THUMBNAIL: Choose an appropriate thumbnail from the available options. You may want to create a thumbnail in an external graphics program (Photoshop or Canva.com) if there are no decent default images chosen from the video.

Adding Annotations to Your Video

Annotations allows you to layer text, links and hotspots over your video. This helps enrich the video experience for the viewer by adding information, interactivity and engagement.

There are five different types of annotations to choose from:

  • Speech bubble: for creating pop-up speech bubbles with text.
  • Spotlight: for highlighting areas in a video; when the user moves the mouse over these areas the text you enter will appear.
  • Note: for creating pop-up boxes containing text.
  • Title: for creating a text overlay to title your video.
  • Label: for creating a label to call out and name a specific part of your video.

Steps to Adding Annotations

  1. Go to the VIDEO MANAGER and select the video you would like to annotate.
  2. Next, click ANNOTATIONS in the top menu bar.
    YouTube - Adding Annotations to video
  3. Press PLAY on the video. When you get to a spot in the video where you would like to add an annotation, click PAUSE.
  4. Click ADD ANNOTATION and select the type of annotation you wish to add to your video and fill in the required fields. When you’re happy with your annotation, click APPLY CHANGES.
    YouTube - Annotation types
  5. Repeat this process to add more annotations.

To adjust the length of the annotation in the timeline – roll over it in the timeline and drag stretch the end to where you would like it to end.

YouTube - Annotations in Video Timeline

Adding Subtitles (Closed Captioning) to Your Video

  1. While your video is uploading, click VIDEO MANAGER in the bottom right corner – this will open the Video Manager where you will find a list of all of your videos.
  2. Click the EDIT button under your new video – it should be at the top of the list.
    Note: You will follow these same steps if you wish to edit an existing video.
  3. Click SUBTITLES AND CC
    YouTube - Adding subtitles and cc
  4. Click ADD NEW SUBTITLES OR CC
  5. Select your language – ENGLISH
  6. Click TRANSCRIBE AND SET TIMINGS.

You will see something similar to the following screenshot:

YouTube - Add_Subtitles

  1. In the text box, begin your text with whatever keyword you’re targeting with that video. Then click the play button on the video and type the words you hear spoken in the video. This will help search engines find you video through transcribed text content. (The video will pause while you type and it will continue when you stop typing)
  2. When you’ve finished transcribing the video, click SET TIMINGS. YouTube will now set the timing for the closed captioning to appear when the words are spoken. It will look something like this:
    YouTube - Set subtitle timings

Posting Your Video

Once you’ve completed your video optimization, you can either post it immediately or you can schedule it to post at a later time.

  1. In the VIDEO MANAGER click on the drop-down menu marked PRIVATE
    YouTube - Set video to Private
  2. Select PUBLIC from the drop-down list.
  3. Once you set this setting to Public, if you have it set up, a social media field will appear. Select the social networks that you wish to publish the video to and enter your message in the message field. Here again, add your keywords and a brief message about the video.
    YouTube - Publish video
  4. When you are satisfied with your video, all your settings and your social media message, click PUBLISH at the bottom right corner of the page.

Schedule Your Video to Post Later

Once you’ve completed your video optimization, you can either post it immediately or you can schedule it to post at a later time.

  1. In the VIDEO MANAGER click on the drop-down menu marked PRIVATE
    YouTube - Set video to Private
  2. Select SCHEDULED from the drop-down list.
  3. Choose the date, time and time zone to schedule your video post.
    YouTube - Schedule video post
  4. Select the social networks that you wish to publish the video to (if you have these set up) and enter a message in the message field. (Remember to keep it within 140 characters for Twitter posts.)
  5. When you’re satisfied with your video, all your settings and your social media message, click PUBLISH at the bottom right corner of the page.

 

By following the above steps, you’ll be one step closer to having your YouTube videos optimized for SEO and having them found by search engines for your specific keywords.

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